Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 30, 2016
Wisdom 11:22-12:2; Psalm 145; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10

            The Year of Mercy is rapidly ending and it is appropriate to evaluate how well we have given and received mercy this past year. Mercy punctuates the readings once again. In Wisdom, we pay homage to God’s mercy because God overlooks our sins so that we may repent. Zacchaeus repents in the Gospel because of the mercy of Jesus. Mercy allows us to fulfill God’s calling for ourselves so that we can fulfill every good purpose and effort of faith through our belief in Jesus.

            Most of us like Zacchaeus and relate to him well. Because of illustrations and movie scenes, some people think of him as kindly, cheerful, and pudgy, with a need to climb high into a tree to see Jesus. We know him as the post-conversion disciple and we forget who he was before his encounter with Jesus. We make him lovable, but he was despised. He was the Bernie Madoff of his day and an IRS bureaucrat rolled into one person. He caused a lot of harm and lived like the rich and famous. He earned and deserved people’s scorn. People were rightly shocked when Jesus stayed at his house rather than staying at the mayor’s or a civic leader’s home. He turned down an offer from the synagogue leader.

            Was this the first time he met Jesus? Was he tired of his life and ripe for a conversion? We cannot underestimate the power of mercy to change hearts. I have seen an opioid-addicted woman decide to get help when her adult son sobbed in tears because he lost his mom to a terrible disease. I have witnessed long-held hostilities come to an end when someone humbles himself with an apology that brings estranged best friends and siblings together. I have seen self-interested people who are mired in self-pity become concerned for another person when they are given a kindness that is undeserved. Mercy that is undeserved breaks down our rigid systems of justice and it lets in a glimpse of God’s kingdom.

            The places of our greatest distress are the areas we need undeserved mercy. When we are stubborn because we want someone else’s behavior changed, we are the ones who need to change our attitudes, not others. We do not control others’ lives. We need mercy to enter into that tension to break the chains that bind us. When we are wounded because we are sensitive, we need to focus on the larger goals around us. Our wounds keep us self-focused. What we need is a way to reconnect in a positive way with the larger society and live as a contributing member. If we look at our wounds with pity, all we are going to see are the wounds. If we look at the good that happens around us, then we will see the good.

            Zacchaeus was finally able to see goodness in others; Likewise, the townspeople could later see his goodness that was hidden under years of bitterness and resentment. When we have our tender spots of distress, we need to pray for those who are causing it. Perhaps, we have an important healing insight to gain. We waste life’s precious time by nurturing grudges. Lift up your eyes and your mind and look for the many positives that you are unable to see. They exist abundantly. You cannot see them if you are looking at your hurts. We say at mass: “Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord.” Let us believe the words we speak.

            Where in your life do you need mercy? I ask for it daily because I need whole parts of my life to be transformed. Mercy keeps life in balance like a drop of morning dew upon the earth. We need to accept the gift that it is. We do not deserve it, but when it comes, it changes our life.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Philippians 2) If there is any encouragement in Christ, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.  
Tuesday: (Revelation 7) Who are these wearing white robes? Where did they come from? They have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
Wednesday: (Wisdom 3) The souls of the just are in the hand of God. They are at peace and no torment shall ever come to them.
Thursday: (Philippians 3) Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ.
Friday (Philippians 3) Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a savior. He will change our lowly body to conform with the glorified Body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
Saturday (Philippians 4) I rejoice greatly that you have revived your concern for me. You know the Gospel and you sent me something in my need. I am grateful for your generosity.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 14) When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or wealthy neighbors. Rather, invited the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind.
Tuesday: (Matthew 5) Blessed are the poor in Spirit. Blessed are you when you are insulted and persecuted because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven will be great.    
Wednesday (John 6) Everything that the Father gives me will come to me and I will not reject anyone who comes to me. Anyone who believes in me will have eternal life.
Thursday (Luke 15) What many among you having a hundred sheep would leave the 99 in search of the one? What woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?
Friday (Luke 16) A steward was brought to account but he squandered his money. He was prudent with his debtors and the master commended that dishonest steward.
Saturday (Luke 16) Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth. The person who is trustworthy in small details is also trustworthy in great ones.  

Saints of the Week

October 30: Dominic Collins, S.J., priest and martyr (1566-1602), was a Jesuit brother who was martyred in his native Ireland. He became a professional solider in the Catholic armies of Europe after the Desmond Rebellion was put down in 1583. He joined the Jesuits in 1584 at Santiago de Compostela and was sent back to Ireland in 1601 with a Spanish contingent. He was captured, tried for his faith, and sentenced to death.

October 31: Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1532-1617) was widowed at age 31. When his three children died, Alphonsus joined the Jesuits as a lay brother at age 40 after attempting to complete the rigors of study. He was sent to the newly opened college in Majorca where he served as a porter for 46 years. His manner of calling people to sanctification was extraordinary. He served obediently and helped others to focus on their spiritual lives.

October 31: All Hallows Eve (evening) owes its origins to a Celtic festival that marked summer's end. The term was first used in 16th century Scotland. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor people would go door to door on Hallomas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2.)

November 1: All Saints Day honors the countless faithful believers - living and dead - who have helped us along in our faith. Our liturgical calendar is filled with canonized saints, but we have many blesseds and minor saints who no longer appear on it. We have local saints across the world. We have many people who live Gospel values who we appreciate and imitate. We remember all of these people on this day.

November 2: All Souls Day is the commemoration of the faithful departed. November is known as All Souls Month. We remember those who died as we hasten towards the end of the liturgical year and the great feast of Christ the King. As a tradition, we have always remembered our dead as a way of keeping them alive to us and giving thanks to God for their lives.

November 3: Rupert Mayer, S.J., priest (1876-1945), resisted the Nazi government and died while saying Mass of a stroke. In 1937, he was placed in protective custody and was eventually released when he agreed that he would no longer preach.

November 3: Martin de Porres, religious (1579-1639) was a Peruvian born of a Spanish knight and a Panamanian Indian woman. Because he was not pure blood, he lost many privileges in the ruling classes. He became a Dominican and served the community in many menial jobs. He was known for tending to the sick and poor and for maintaining a rigorous prayer life.

November 4: Charles Borromeo, bishop (1538-1584), was made Bishop of Milan at age 22. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was a leading Archbishop in the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent. During a plague epidemic, Borromeo visited the hardest hit areas so he could provide pastoral care to the sick.

November 5: All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus are remembered by Jesuits on their particularized liturgical calendar. We remember not only the major saints on the calendar, but also those who are in the canonization process and hold the title of Blessed. We pray for all souls of deceased Jesuits in our province during the month by using our necrology (listing of the dead.)

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.
·      Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.
·      Nov 1, 1956. The Society of Jesus was allowed in Norway.
·      Nov 2, 1661. The death of Daniel Seghers, a famous painter of insects and flowers.
·      Nov 3, 1614. Dutch pirates failed to capture the vessel in which the right arm of Francis Xavier was being brought to Rome.
·      Nov 4, 1768. On the feast of St Charles, patron of Charles III, King of Spain, the people of Madrid asked for the recall of the Jesuits who had been banished from Spain nineteen months earlier. Irritated by this demand, the king drove the Archbishop of Toledo and his Vicar General into exile as instigators of the movement.

·      Nov 5, 1660. The death of Alexander de Rhodes, one of the most effective Jesuit missionaries of all time. A native of France, he arrived in what is now Vietnam in 1625.